Kishwaukee United Way launches Born Learning Trail

Kishwaukee United Way will celebrate the grand opening of the Born Learning Trail at an event from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 5 at Lions Park in DeKalb.

A project of its annual Day of Caring on June 20, the trail was sponsored by Target Distribution Center with special support from Sonoco and the DeKalb Park District, and assembled by a team of volunteers from Target and the broader community. It is an early learning play trail -- the first of its kind in DeKalb County.

The trail is a series of 10 signs that offer fun, active learning activities for young children and their families. It helps parents, caregivers and communities create quality engagement opportunities when out on a stroll or visiting a local playground.

United Way Director Dawn Littlefield is excited about the concept of the trail, and was pleased to partner early on with the Regional Office of Education and its BASICS program, a local initiative that mirrors the trail’s activities and intent of engaging kids in early learning.

A host of early education partners will be at the event on Sept. 5 to share early learning resources and programs that parents and families can access year-round.

“We are pleased to welcome agencies and organizations to our grand opening event that help kids get ready to learn and be ready for school,” Littlefield said in a news release. “The trail is an easy way parents can encourage early learning and have fun with their children at the same time. We hope to replicate the trail in other areas in our community in the near future.”

Organizations that will host interactive games, activities and giveaways at the launch event include BASICS, The Growing Place, Community Coordinated Child Care, Children’s Learning Center, Safe Passage, Youth Service Bureau, Adventure Works, Jerry L. Johns Literacy Clinic, DeKalb Public Library, Kishwaukee Family YMCA, DeKalb Park District and The Salvation Army. Live, Learn & Lead will be there with baby goats, and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce will host a formal ribbon-cutting at 5:15 p.m.

Thanks to a Thrivent Action Team Grant and donations from the Kohl’s Cares program, Kishwaukee United Way will give away free children’s books and stuffed animals. Big D’s Hot Dogs will be there to sell hot dogs and snacks to participants.

Companies or organizations interested in sponsoring a Born Learning Trail in other areas of the county should call Dawn Littlefield at 815-756-7522 for more information.

Born Learning work began in 2005 as United Way’s first national public engagement campaign. It made public service advertising, parent materials and online tips, tools and templates available to help United Ways advance early childhood impact strategies.